Chapter 1 Foundations for Small Business
The Twenty-First-Century Small-Business Owner
Source: Used with permission from Frank C. Trotta III.
Frank Trotta III is a recent college graduate, class of 2009, and an excellent example of the twenty-first-century small business owner. At 23, he is already running his own business and planning to open a second. This may be second nature because Frank III is a third-generation small business owner. His grandfather, Frank Trotta Sr., opened a supermarket in 1945. His son, Frank C. Trotta Jr., began his career by working in the supermarket. Soon he had his own hardware department within the store and was beginning to understand what it takes to be a successful grocer. He observed his dad interacting with his customers and providing value through customer service.
Frank Jr. now owns and operates one of Long Island’s most successful travel companies: the Prime Time Travel Club. The experience Frank Jr. garnered from his father in customer service became the tenet of his business philosophy: give customers value through personal attention and service. At an early age, Frank III worked in his dad’s office when he was not busy with school activities. He had a strong entrepreneurial leaning and became very interested in the travel industry. In high school, Frank III worked for his dad and learned different facets of the travel business. While attending a Connecticut university, Frank III reached out to other students on campus and started his own side business: booking spring break trips. The same people are now repeat customers who call him to book their vacations, honeymoons, and family trips.
In his junior year, Frank III created a travel site of his own: Cruisetoanywhere.com. He is involved with every aspect of the site: he takes all calls from the customer service number, produces all the marketing campaigns, and works on contracts with both major and smaller cruise lines. Although the site is still young, it has been very successful. Frank III is learning how larger competitors do business and from their successes and mistakes. Customer service and attention are his first priority. Frank III believes his competitive business edge comes from what he learned from his father’s company and business skills such as planning and managing cash flow from his professors. In addition to his cruise website, Frank III plans to launch another site, Tourstoanywhere.com. He exemplifies the skill set that will characterize the twenty-first-century small business owner: a clear focus on creating value for his customers, a willingness to exploit the benefits of digital technology and e-commerce, and the ability to apply basic business skills to the effective operation of the firm.